View single post by Savez
 Posted: Thu May 24th, 2012 05:30 pm
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Mark wrote: Sorry, I didn't mean my question to turn into a discussion of the causes of the war. Savez, you are correct when you state that, politically, Jim McPherson is a liberal. I fail, however, to see how this matters to his credentials as a historian. He examines his evidence, comes to a conclusion based on that evidence and presents his argument to readers. Revision of existing historical assumptions by looking at new evidence or old evidence in a new way is the essence of historical research. He has studied literally thousands of primary sources and formed his conclusions from those. I'm not aware of any point in his published works (and I have read them all) where he suggests that every Southern soldier was fighting to protect slavery. The closest you would come to that would be in Joe Glatthar's works. As to Lincoln, I would point you to "Tried by War: Lincoln as Commander in Chief." In that work, I think you will find that he paints Lincoln not as a demigod or a devil, but as a man, with both flaws and good attributes. For instance, McPherson castigates Lincoln for his deference to McClellan and for appointing many generals to positions well above their competence levels. I think you may find this passage of interest, "Whether...violations of civil liberties constitute a negative legacy that offsets the positive legacy of the Union and emancipation is a question everyone must decide for himself or herself." (pp. 270) I doubt we will come to any conclusion here, but I do hope you will eventually give him another chance. While you may not agree with his arguments, McPherson is the major Civil War historian of our time and cannot simply be dismissed.


I think he comes to a conclusion, and then cherrypicks his evidence, and then presents his argument. But I will try and consider giving him another chance. I have to admit I haven't read For Cause and Comrades or Battle Cry of Freedom since college. But they both left a bad taste in my mouth. Some might consider him "the major Civil War historian of our time" but I do not, and will never consider him as such. But I appreciate your opinion. Its nothing personal toward you.

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